LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Ten-year-old Anja Schwarzbauer ran 38 laps at Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School on Friday. Fellow fifth-grader Emily Entwistle ran 40.
Those 78 laps -- and countless more from the rest of the students at McNeal -- are expected to bring in about $20,000 for the Lakewood Ranch elementary school to help buy more technology and outdoor play equipment for the some 780 students at the school.
"The teachers are asking for these updates and we
like to assist the district," said PTO President Jennifer Mandzik, who helped organize the Boosterthon Fun Run. It is the second time the school has worked with Boosterthon.
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Boosterthon, a 13-year-old company based in Atlanta with a branch in Tampa, works with schools to run the event. McNeal is the first Manatee County school to participate, although representatives from William Elementary School were on hand Friday to follow the action.
The fun run was the culmination of a 10-day program Boosterthon runs that focuses on character and physical fitness. Students find donors, who pledge an amount based on how many laps the students run.
School Principal Cheryl McGrew said the money raised and the devices the PTO will be able to provide help prepare students for today's world.
"The PTO is very proactive. We work together very well," she said. "It's what the children need."
McGrew said she's pleased the district is stepping in and focusing on updating the different devices in the school in the last couple years -- after some rough financial times -- but said the PTO provides valuable assistance.
"They're kind of filling in those gaps," she said.
And the children were more than happy to help. The Boosterthon staff ran with the children, played loud music for children to sing and dance along with and motivated the students to keep going. Water was provided and children were instructed to rest if they needed to.
"It's a lot of fun to run with all your friends and earn some prizes," Anja said.
She said having computers and different devices in the school help learning.
"You can go on the science website and get your science book if you forget it," she said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.